A sport shooting group has come under fire from politicians and campaigners after labelling people opposed to trophy hunting as “unsophisticated”.

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) made the remark in an official submission to the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which is holding a public consultation on plans to ban imports and exports of hunting trophies.

Trophy hunting involves shooting wild and domestic animals due to their size, rarity, or ornamental appearance. Hunters then keep a part of the animal such as the head, fur or skin as a souvenir ‘trophy’.


BASC referred to “the unsophisticated members of the public who are being persuaded by anti-hunting groups to respond to the consultation” in opposition to trophy hunting.

In response, the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting (CBTH) said that “the shooting industry lobby isn’t just out of touch with public opinion in Scotland – it is openly insulting Scottish people.”

The SNP’s Dr Lisa Cameron MP called BASC’s comment “overwhelmingly condescending” and “entirely out of step” with the UK public. The Liberal Democrats emphasised that people “are furious about trophy hunting, especially when it involves species that are on the brink.”

BASC told The Ferret that those seeking a ban were “animal rights extremists and celebrities chasing cheap headlines and social media likes” while “experts in ecology, wildlife conservation and natural resources” were in favour of trophy hunting.

Celebrity hunter tweets photos of killed animals after Scots hunting trip

A CBTH-commissioned Survation opinion poll published in October 2019 found that 86 per cent of those in UK – and 89 per cent in Scotland – agreed with the statement: “Trophy hunting should be universally banned”.

CBTH said the survey showed a ban was supported by 96 per cent of SNP voters, 90 per cent of LibDem and Labour voters and 87 per cent of Conservative voters.

UK hunters have made headlines in recent years after shooting big game such as elephants, lions and rhinos in foreign countries. However, foreign hunters also travel to the UK to hunt native animals, such as deer, goats and sheep, as well as non-domestic animals bred for shooting.

In 2018 we reported that US celebrity hunter Larysa Switlyk shared a series of posts on social media which appeared to show animals she had shot and killed on Islay and Ardnamurchan. Among the animals killed were goats, stags and a ram.

The images prompted local MSP and Scottish Government minister Michael Russell to call for such practices to be “stopped immediately”, raising the issue “as a matter of urgency” with the Scottish Government’s environment secretary, Roseanna Cunningham.

The government later confirmed that Cunningham would consider “whether any clarification of or changes to the law might be required.”

UK sporting estates also breed exotic animals to offer to clients, such as the Père David’s Deer, which is classed as extinct in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

In 2018 an email sent by a hunting tours company to a potential client and seen by the Observer claimed that a “grade A” Père David can be shot for around £7,000 at Woburn Abbey Deer Park.

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trophy hunting
Père David Deer at Woburn Deer Park, Bedfordshire

An 88-strong group of cross-party MPs, including 30 representing Scottish constituencies at the time of publication, have signed a UK Parliament Early Day Motion calling for the government to ban the import and export of hunting trophies.

The signatories were “strongly of the view that killing animals for trophies is indefensible and cruel and that it has no place in the modern world”.

SNP MP Cameron is sponsoring the motion. “Not only is this organisation entirely out of step with the views of the overwhelming majority of people across the UK, but their given response appears overwhelmingly condescending to the British public and lacks insight,” she said.

Her comments were echoed by the Wera Hobhouse MP, the Liberal Democrats’ Defra spokesperson. “People are furious about trophy hunting, especially when it involves species that are on the brink,” she said. “Our laws should reflect that.”

Hobhouse added: “There obviously instances when shooting is required for conservation and to control populations, but the law can allow that while also clamping down on the hunting and killing of rare and endangered animals across the world.”

The whole sick industry needs to be consigned to the dustbin of history. Eduardo Goncalves, Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting

BASC argued that there were “two inherent differences between those that are against so-called trophy hunting and those that understand its benefits.”

Those seeking a ban “are a collaboration of animal rights extremists and celebrities chasing cheap headlines and social media likes,” said a BASC spokesperson. “Those in favour are made up of experts in ecology, wildlife conservation and natural resources.”

The spokesperson added: “Science must be allowed to triumph sensationalism as anything else would prove catastrophic for biodiversity and rural communities around the world that depend on sustainable hunting for income and food.”

CBTH founder, Eduardo Goncalves, said that “the overwhelming majority of people and parliamentarians” were “strongly opposed to trophy hunting because it is cruel and immoral.”

For BASC to “simply dismiss them as unsophisticated is simply astounding and shows breathtaking arrogance,” he said. “Their response is to say that only they know best and everybody else is in the wrong. It’s quite staggering.”

Goncalves added: “People who enjoy killing animals for entertainment are a tiny minority, no more so than in Scotland. The people who participate in it are clearly living in the past. The whole sick industry needs to be consigned to the dustbin of history.”

Poll: Should there be a ban on the import and export of hunting trophies?

Header image thanks to Manon Dene/HSI via The Humane Society of the United States. Père David’s Deer image thanks to Tim Felce (Airwolfhound).

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Christine Simpkin

Banning trophy hunting, the murder of beautiful and endangered animals is not unsophisticated. What is unsophisticated is the tiny willy club trying to justify their disgusting vile excuse for sport.
It is not sport when the opponent doesn’t know it is involved.
Cull the hunters!

The countries that kept allowing hunting to take place have many more animals than those countries that stopped hunting.
Hunting outfits make sure there are enough animals for next seasons hunting, they also take action to stop poaching because the animals have a worth. Countries that stopped hunting do not protect against poachers as well as hunting areas, as the animals are not worth anything other than for photos. Ban hunting and the animals go extinct because no one is protecting them.

Mr Goncalves of the CBTH, his UK registered company that harvests donations, is the one whipping up public anger with his tales of trophy hunting straight out of Rider Haggard 120 years ago. He is like a man who drops wind then complains about the smell. The 86% complain with him. It is largely his smell, not the truth.
In South Africa alone, 16-20 million animals are being raised for hunting and meat on some 40 million acres of game farms. They shoot 1.2 million animals a year, produce over 100,000 tons of red meat a year and supply a fifth of the country’s red meat. A few of those animals (o.02%) are taken as trophies but the rest of the animal goes into the meat trade…should they throw the horns and skins away? Thousands of zebra, springbok and other hides are tanned into leather. The animals have a better life and death than most of the 900 million creatures we kill for food in the UK each year, and the trade is no different to the 350,000 deer we kill each year.

Regulated Hunting is a vital part of wildlife conservation. It is already illegal to hunt endangered species or hunt “just for a trophy”. The people pushing for a ban are not basing their opinion on a rational assessment of the verifiable FACTS, but rather on an emotional response to misinformation.

Lindsay Southcombe

Patronising Pratt!!